Keepers' Diaries, September 2014

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Voi Reintegration Unit

There is a sense that the rains are getting closer with some days being incredibly hot this past month, and the skies building. There were a couple of days when it did rain and it was a relief to see the parched dry park now slowly begin to transform into a paradise. We hope the rains will well and truly break early. The orphans have all been well and this month saw our two new arrivals, Bada and Sorka, tame down in their stockades where they had their milk and tasty browse brought to them throughout the day and night to help build their strength and get them completely used to the Keepers and their milk bottles. It is important that they feel comfortable so that they will not run off with the first wild herds they encounter. That could pose a big problem as while both of them are over two years old they are still very much dependent on milk to sustain life.

There is a sense that the rains are getting closer with some days being incredibly hot this past month, and the skies building. There were a couple of days when it did rain and it was a relief to see the parched dry park now slowly begin to transform into a paradise. We hope the rains will well and truly break early. The orphans have all been well and this month saw our two new arrivals, Bada and Sorka, tame down in their stockades where they had their milk and tasty browse brought to them throughout the day and night to help build their strength and get them completely used to the Keepers and their milk bottles. It is important that they feel comfortable so that they will not run off with the first wild herds they encounter. That could pose a big problem as while both of them are over two years old they are still very much dependent on milk to sustain life.

Eventually when these two were finally allowed out of their stockades on the 21st for their first full day they tentatively headed into the bush with the older orphans. The first couple of days were rather fraught and Mbirikani and Kivuko were particularly jealous of their additional milk feeds and choose to push them around as a result. Thankfully this did not last for long and within a couple of days they had calmed down and were much more accepting of events. The one that has felt displaced with the arrival of little Bada and Sorka has been Mudanda. Wasessa has been very preoccupied, with Soka particularly, and neglecting her precious baby Mudanda. While of course the others were more than happy to fill the motherly role, Wasessa’s fickle actions did leave Mudanda perplexed at first until she took control and simply demanded Wasessa’s attentions once more. Towards the end of the month the two new babies Bada and Sorka had really begun to settle into their routine and seemed much more comfortable, even gravitating to the keepers in preference to the other orphaned elephants.

There was sadly heartbreak this month when a report came in about an injured elephant calf on the 22nd. A desperate calf of about four years old was rescued with what seemed like a terrible arrow injury to the back which left her partially paralysed. The Vet concluded that she needed to be taken to the stockades for treatment but sadly she was never able to stand. She was discovered too late and her injuries too severe and finally slipped away despite everyone’s best efforts. Her arrival had sparked the interest and compassion of the older orphans who all understood that this calf needed their energy to give her a will to live. Naipoki, Kihari and Panda were particularly concerned and spent much time communicating with her. She was aware of their presence and rumbled in return but was too weak to even lift her head. When this tragic little elephant died our orphans were deeply affected even though the Keepers took pains to hide this from them. Elephants are far too clever to be hoodwinked and they all understood that she had lost her fight. Their mood was somber throughout this day.

On the 26th of September news of another rescue was reported to the Voi team by KWS. They immediately rushed to the site and retrieved a tiny baby approximately two weeks old. A flight was then arranged for her collection by the DSWT Nairobi Nursery team. While the team waited for the plane this tiny baby was happy to follow the keepers everywhere. This month the Voi Unit has received a few more orphans to keep them well and truly busy. An injured warthog was delivered from Galana Ranch and two tiny Kudu babies rescued from bush meat poachers by the Anti-Poaching team.

Warm days in Voi were filled with fun and games punctuated by the midday milk feed for the younger orphans and fresh water for the older orphans complimented by a midday mud bath. The mud bath time is normally where the Voi orphans get to interact with wild herds, but while there has been interaction this month, the few rain showers have seen the resident wild herds head further a field in search of greener pastures.

September 2014 day to day

01 Sep

The orphans left the stockade in the morning to where they began their day of browsing and playing. Mzima and Layoni were the leaders of the group today while babies Panda, Mudanda, Ishaq b and Kihari remained behind under their loyal leadership of Wasessa, Lesanju and Lempaute. The two orphan herds browsed separately for the better half of the day. Layoni was very punctual to have come down the hill well in time for their daily milk feed. She ran past the other orphans alerting all of them exactly what time it was… Milk time! After their milk feed the orphans walked to the mud bath and all plunged into the water. After their entertaining day Panda slowly led the younger orphan’s home.

Layoni waiting for his milk

Mbirikani knelling in the water

Panda getting her daily milk feed

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